No one likes to feel fatigued, but if you're getting a decent amount of sleep and still feeling tired, other aspects of your lifestyle may be to blame. Luckily, there a number of easy changes you can make for improved energy, and taking the time to balance out different parts of your life can have profound effects on your energy levels, both mentally and physically. There's not one quick cure for energy, but keeping your body healthy will have it chugging it along at a desired pace.
"Low energy is caused by many lifestyle factors," says certified holistic health coach Alexandra Napoli over email. "Obviously not getting enough high quality sleep is a huge culprit. Other reasons you might have low energy include poor diet, dehydration, low activity levels, and a non-existent self-care routine. So many people suffer from low energy because our modern world is not set up to nurture our bodies. We are constantly on the go, from one commitment to the next email, never taking a break."
If you're feeling lethargic often and can't figure out what's the culprit, consider these 11 lifestyle changes that can help improve your energy levels the all-natural way.
You might think that working out would make you more tired, but the opposite is true — in fact, it's highly successful at fighting off fatigue. A study from the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found that people who regularly complain of fatigue can increase their energy levels by 20 percent and decrease their fatigue by 65 percent by engaging in regular, low intensity exercise.
"[Doing something altruistic] enhances immune function, increases joy and passion for life, and gives you more energy," says Dr. Pete Sulack, founder of StressRX.com over email. One study from the Journal of Urban Health even found that after spending time volunteering, older adults reported having more strength and energy.
3. Avoiding Toxins
Stick to natural products, whether it be anything from your food to your perfume. "Avoid as many toxins as you can—especially the obvious ones like sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco," says Sulack. "Filter your tap water. Processed foods and many cleaning agents and personal care products also contain chemicals that are toxic, and that rob us of energy."
4. Drinking More Water
Most people aren't drinking enough water, but staying hydrated is essential for our energy levels. A study from the Journal of Nutrition found that even just mild dehydration can cause fatigue and problems focusing in women.
5. Ditching Processed Foods
Eating unhealthy foods is a surefire way to slow you down. "These items tend to be high in fat, sodium, and sugar, which can lead to 'crashes' where your body feels exhausted," says Susan Berkman, MS, RD, LD at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center over email. "Especially watch how much sugar you’re having from soda, sports drinks, and juice."
6. Eating More Fruits & Vegetables
"When you’re tired and craving unhealthy foods, it’s because your body is looking for energy in any form that it can find it – especially calorie-dense foods," says Berkman. "In reality, your body is probably craving good nutrition. Aim for at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day."
7. Improve Your Stress Management
"Taking a time out daily, weekly or monthly to recharge and relax is incredibly invigorating," says Napoli. "Whether it's a long hot bath, spa treatment, afternoon nap or a full day disconnected from email, this act of self-care will help you recharge and feel energized instantly." Constant anxiety and high levels of the stress hormone cortisol can make you tired, so try to diminish your stress if you want to feel more energetic.
8. Getting Into A Consistent Sleep Routine
Okay yes, we know sleep is essential for good energy levels, but keeping the same schedule is important as well. "Try to get to bed and wake up every morning at the same time," says Brunilda Nazario, MD, Associate Medical Director at WebMD, over email. "This helps synchronize sleep cycles so you can wake refreshed and restored."
9. Spending Time With Friends
"Look for folks that have a positive outlook on life and that might have a slightly faster pace than you," says Nazario. "There’s definitely science behind being happy and energized." Social support can help prevent depression — an energy killer — and it can also improve your cognitive performance, according to research from the journal Personality and Social Psychology.
10. Eating Carbs At Breakfast
Now we're not saying to load up on donuts in the morning (as delicious as they are), but you might want to incorporate some other complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and oatmeal. A study from the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found that people who ate a high carbohydrate breakfast felt more alert than whose who just ate a meal high in fat.
11. Don't Overdo It On The Caffeine
Coffee can be helpful at times, but you shouldn't rely on it everyday. "If you need a cup of coffee to wake up in the morning, you're addicted to caffeine," says Napoli. "Your body’s natural rhythms have been taken over by your cup of joe, which leads to swings in energy levels. Decrease your caffeine consumption to allow your body to energize itself."
The more you engage in healthy habits, the better your energy levels will be. If you're still having issues, it's best to see your doctor to look for any underlying health issues.
Images: Pixabay (12); Bustle